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The Emerald Isle only legalized sodomy in 1993 and Irish partygoers are still sowing their oats.
NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Dublin article click DailyXtraTravel
If you hear the word 'craic'
(pronounced 'crack') in Dublin, know that it means
'good times' or 'fun' -- often associated with
drinking. The Irish are a complicated, but definitely
craic-loving, people with a friendly approachability.
from staff reports
Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and U-
2 aren't the only reasons for things Irish to be in
vogue. Droves of young people have been flocking
to the Irish capital Dublin for years now since the
"Celtic Tiger" euro-fueled economy began attracting
so many ambitious
Eastern Europeans who now call this home. They've
been joined by other immigrants and visitors from
all over the world who have come to enjoy the
party, along with the saucy native Irish. Indeed, the
majority of people in the central district appear to
be from somewhere
else judging by the melange of languages and
accents other than Irish.
Irish brews and whiskies are
famous worldwide, and many and varied are those
centers of Irish social life, the pubs. Dubliners in
particular have a well-deserved reputation for
enjoying a drink. With every round, the brogues
become more pronounced and a
mischievous humor emerges; queer descendants of
ancient Celts and Norsemen in this Emerald Isle can
hold their own in sometimes raucous partying,
almost any night.
Sexual liberation is still fresh in
the collective memory here. Not long ago, condoms
had to be smuggled across the border from
Northern Ireland, divorce and abortion were illegal,
and being gay practically was too (only
decriminalized in 1993). But things
have changed, and the scene has begun to move
out of the clubs and into the mainstream. As a
consequence, fewer bars are exclusively gay here
now than in the "bad" old days.
Dublin's gay nightspots are
easily walkable from one another, and on most
evenings the streets are full of people crowding the
sidewalks and pubs of the Temple Bar area along
the River Liffey. There's plenty of live traditional
music, as well as authentic Irish stew, to
be found here. With smoking banned indoors, many
people congregate outside, and conversations are
easy with most anyone who catches your fancy.
Dragon (64-65 South Great Georges
Street) is a lavish cocktail bar and lounge nightclub
on two floors. Open daily from 5pm, they have
occasional shows, usually without cover charge. It's
quite packed on the weekends with a young, stylish
of guys, and also women, who play until 2:30am
Thursdays through Saturdays, but not so late
Sunday through Wednesday.
lounge (33 Parliament Street), gay-
owned-and-operated, is a unique, attitude-free
club. Anyone -- gay, straight, bi, lesbian, or
whatever -- is welcome, and celebrities the likes of
Sinead O'Connor and Elton John have been spotted
Village Voice called it "the most stylish,
funky, and open-minded bar in Dublin." Front
Lounge hosts special events and packs 'em in for a
festive Karaoke Night on Tuesday, and Thursday
nights are popular for their mojito drinks specials.
Fresh tapas are served all day, as are cocktails such
as their Appletini, while DJs spin a wide variety of
music. In the Front Lounge find a large selection of
beers and wines from around the world, including
U.S. Bud, and several Eastern European brews. This
is an ideal place to start the night out in the Irish
capital as it gets going early. They're also the best
(and only gay) place to watch the big sports events.
George (89 South Great Georges
Street) has been around so long that their old pub,
Bridie's, has been affectionately tagged the "Jurassic
Room" by some. It opens at half past noon daily
until 2:30am (except Monday and Tuesday
11:30pm). Their big Wednesday-through-Sunday
dance club opens 5pm to 2:30am, with a young and
energetic crowd. Nightly acts and shows include
Wednesday Space N'Vader, alternative drag
with Vada Beau and Divina; Friday dance contests
for thousand euro prizes; and various bingo and
karaoke nights. There's dancing before and after
the shows, with no cover before 10pm.
Pantibar (7-8 Capel St) owned and
operated by Dublin's most-loved drag queen Panti,
onstage Thursdays for the most popular night to
kick off the weekends, full of campy escapades.
Open nightly 5pm to midnight; quieter on weekdays
and a good place to unwind after work.
One night dance clubs
Glitz is the Tuesday
night gay dance event at Break for
the Border (2 Johnstons Place, Lower
Stephens Street) from 11 pm to 3am.
Special gay nights at normally
straight clubs come and go frequently. Check
listings to be sure, but try these: Sunday
Social at the
Sycamore Club (9 Sycamore Street);
Thursday Prhomo at the Base Bar
(6 Wicklow St); and Sundays at Spy
(Powerscourt Townhouse, South Williams
The Queer &
Alternative dance event is periodic, see
online for the next date.
Queer ID can help keep you
updated about this very changeable Dublin dance
Boilerhouse (12 Crane Lane), a
popular men's sauna and social club also in Temple
Bar. Billed as "Dublin's best and biggest sauna," it's
a treat to explore, with colorful and cavernous
cruisy areas, a cafe, and two steam rooms. Private
rooms are also available
where you can let off some steam with one of the
many loyal regulars who keep this place busy,
especially on weekends. The Boilerhouse is open 1
p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday-Thursday, and non-stop
from 1 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. on Monday morning.
The other sauna in town, the Dock
Sauna (21 Upper Ormond Quay), has a
steamroom, dry sauna, video and dark rooms,
internet access, snacks and refreshments.
Hotel (6-8 Wellington Quay; 353 1 407
0800) is a comfortable general public hotel right at
Temple Bar beside the River Liffey.
Merchant House (8 Eustace Street;
353 1 633 4447) at the heart of Temple Bar, has
four luxury suites in a restored 18th Century
merchant townhouse with all the amenities. The
private entrance is secure and there are reduced
rate parking facilities nearby.
Dormer beds go for as little as
10 euros a night for those in a group at
Barnacles (19 Temple Lane;
Barnacles.ie), a pleasant hostel at the center of
Temple Bar. They also have private rooms with
en suite bathrooms, and balconies at a
The international backpacker mix is informal, they
have a communal kitchen you can use, and
reception is open 24 hours. The drawback here is
you can't bring newly-met friends back with you.
About 10 minutes by bus from
city center in a quiet neighborhood overlooking a
park, you'll find a decidedly comfortable option:
Nua Haven Bed and Breakfast (087-
686-7062). Owners Bruno and Mike can be friendly
and helpful without being intrusive.
The buffet breakfast is a gourmet, do-it-yourself
affair, and available to you anytime between 8 a.m.
to noon, so late sleepers won't go hungry. Rooms
are comfortable and include TV/VCRs and
en suite bathrooms, plus they have
broadband internet access.
Dublin is blessed with an
amazing variety of restaurants with authentic
cuisines from all over the world, as well as basic
home-grown offerings. Many of the pubs have daily
lunch specials, too.
(73-83 South Great Georges Street) is an
innovative and stylish vegetarian restaurant
between the George and the Dragon, with natural
and organic food at reasonable prices. Besides the
many freshly prepared juices and smoothies, they
offer delicious vegan
and veggie lunches and dinners daily till 10pm.
Juice also offers a great selection of organic wines
and beers, as well as exotic teas, organic coffees,
and guilt-free desserts.
The gay-owned Gruel
(68a Dame Street) and its sister restaurant
Mermaid Cafe (69/70 Dame Street)
are two must-try dining choices conveniently
located between the two principal gay streets in
town. Owners Ben and Mark started the upscale-
Mermaid Cafe 11 years ago, and then Gruel
followed on the Mermaid's success five years later
as a more economical way to enjoy the great
culinary creations of cooks devoted to naturally
delicious, wholesome, and hearty grub. Open daily
serving lunch and dinner, Gruel, as
its name suggests, offers simple but tasty fare: a
cornucopia of delightfully under-processed victuals,
including naturally raised meats, fresh soups, daily
specials, as well as lots of great teas and coffees.
Other gay-friendly Temple Bar
Chameleon (1 Lower Fawne's) for
Lemon Jelly (10/11b Essex Street),
loved for their wholesome bagels, panini, and
stuffed crepes in both savory and sweet varieties;
Monty's of Kathmandu (28
Eustace), an award winning Nepalese restaurant;
Tea Room (6-8 Wellington Way) at
the Clarence Hotel; and
Trastevere (1 Temple Bar Square) for
"New York-style Italian."
Other restaurants a little further
L'Ecrivain (109a Lower Baggot), for
fine dining that's popular enough to require
reservations most nights;
Saba (26-28 Clarendon), serving
traditional Thai and Vietnamese food with rich
Trocadero (3 St. Andrews Street), a
theater-inspired restaurant with highly-rated food
near St. Stephen's Green; and
Odessa (13-14 Dame Court), with
simple but tasty food, comfortable atmosphere, and
For an inexpensive nibble while
listening to the street musicians play at Temple Bar
Square, or just watching the river and the people
flow by, there's a multitude of take-outs, from
kababs to burgers, in the area. Three good-quality
fast food locales with decent
Burdock's (Epicurian Hall, 13 Liffey
Walk), Dublin's most experienced fish and chip shop
(since 1913!), just across Ha'Penny Bridge;
Di Fontaine's Pizza (3 Crown Alley),
beside the famous
Eamonn Doran's Bar bar and music
venue on the square, offering
big, American-style slices; and Heavenly
Hot Dogs (3 Temple Bar Square), with
tables on the square and a fun international staff.
The Saturday market stalls at
Meeting House Square are a good place to get fresh
produce, local cheese, fresh baked goodies, and
various kinds of other finger-food snacks, too.
Before a rowdy all-nighter at one
of those wild Dublin dance parties, get a makeover
from someone who understands the beauty needs
of the body-conscious male, and who offers
exfoliation, waxing, massage, facials, and more.
Stephen Thomas Beauty Salon (64,
Dame Street, Unit 1, Coghills House) in Temple Bar
will set you up for the runways of Milan -- or at
least the back-alleys of Dublin -- looking your jaw-
Basic Instincts (8
Eustace Street) is Dublin's only gay-owned store of
its kind, with a great selection of leatherwear, PVC,
rubberwear, and intimate lingerie. They also carry a
full section of adult magazines, greeting cards, and
DVDs, plus gifts for
all kinds of kinky occasions, including items from
Mr. B of Amsterdam. The all-natural Chinese Viagra
they carry comes highly recommended. A basement
cruising and cinema complex here has private
cabins, and glory holes.
Beginning just outside the gates
of Trinity College is the pedestrian shopping district
at Grafton Street. Its broad expanse is packed with
people and lined with every kind of shop and cafe
you could imagine, large and small, and spilling off
along adjacent streets.
There are indoor arcades and malls here too,
including the giant
Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.
Nearby Dawson Street has lots of bookshops,
stylish cafes, and restaurants. At the top end of
Grafton Street is St. Stephen's Greens, Dublin's large
city park, with gardens, fountains,
Resources and events
Community News, or GCN is the
informative free gay monthly magazine that's
distributed throughout Ireland.
International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival
is set for May 3 to 16, 2010, the seventh year
for this event. See their website for details on this
and other area theater events.
Dublin Gay Pride is
scheduled for a week of celebrations, this year June
18-27, 2010, with a Saturday parade in Dublin City
Centre. Check local media for more details.
is a festival of contemporary arts, an
annual platform for the most innovative theater,
dance, music, and more. The 2010 festival will take
place September 11-26, click through to their
website above for more.
Institute (6 Eustace Street) screens rare
cinematic gems, and film festivals in Temple Bar.
Miss Ireland is an annual expansion of
"all known definitions of beauty." Catch them in
2011 for their "24st Tranniversary" spectacular --
details online (March 14 was their 2010 date).
Outhouse (105 Capel Street) is a
fantastic building that now houses Dublin's GLBT
community center as well as a cafe, meeting rooms
for Belong, the gay youth group, and the
Gay Men's Health Project. It's a great
place for local
information and the opportunity to meet local
The Irish Queer
Archive (35a Patrick Street) is a Dublin
area non-profit group that collects all things Irish
relating to homosexuality.
For general information about
restaurants, shops and more in the Dublin district
of many charms, click Temple Bar.
Within an hour of Dublin there
are extraordinary countryside areas to see such as
the Glendalough lakes (one hour south), or near
Newgrange, on the way to Drogheda and Belfast,
there are prehistoric ruins, not unlike Stonehenge,
that may be the world's
oldest surviving man- made structure.
There are other Irish towns, each
with its own gay community, and Belfast, to the
north in Ulster, also has a gay scene. Click
Cork for our article on that city.
For listings in Belfast, Derry, and
Galway browse Ireland here on Guidemag.com.
Dublin is the gateway to many
European destinations. With discount airlines such
as Easyjet and Ryanair, there's a wide choice of
cities beyond at a fraction of bigger carriers' rates.
The beautiful countryside and Dublin's fun-loving
city pleasures are good reasons for
a stop-over and a romp in Ireland's mystical
landscape with people just waiting to charm the
pants off you!